Mobility Solutions

Learning from old parts Exchange parts give Bosch clues for product development Active field observation at Bosch

  • Bosch replaces functional car parts for testing purposes
  • Findings aid product development
  • Car owners receive new spare part free of charge
  • Several automakers are also using the Bosch process
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  • February 25, 2015
  • Mobility Solutions
  • Press releases

press release

Bosch is taking a new approach to product development. “Ideally, there is a perfect fit between our products and what is actual required in the car,” says Klaus Sekot, the project manager in charge. “The products should function for the car’s entire life, withstanding all the stress and strain that occurs in real driving conditions.” To come closer to this aim, Bosch launched the “active field observation at Bosch” initiative in early 2013. For analytical purposes, developers are able to request used car parts that are still functional. Their findings are a supplement to existing knowledge and to automakers’ specifications. In this way, the product can be improved so that it best meets the actual requirements.

What is unusual about the initiative is that Bosch is not asking for faulty car parts replaced during the warranty period, but instead for parts that are still functional and, in some cases, much older. The reason is that it is only after many years of use that specialists are able to identify certain problems. Environmental conditions and driving behavior impact the wear and tear of car parts, for example. Bosch associates from different product areas are able to choose which markets, vehicles, and engines the used components should be sourced from. The most popular selection criteria are the vehicles’ age, mileage, and country of origin. “These used car parts are important for us. For example, they help us meet ever stricter warranty requirements,” Sekot says. And the car owners involved also have a reason to smile: they receive a new spare part free of charge.

Proprietary Bosch software
Software developed by Bosch manages the sourcing process from order placement to delivery. The person placing the order specifies the desired components and vehicles and selects a region using an interactive map of the world. The software sends the information to the local workshops participating in the scheme and automatically checks whether a suitable vehicle is listed in the customer base. If the customer agrees, the workshop can then exchange the part in question and send the old part to the person who placed the order. The software also organizes the shipment from the workshop to the developer, who receives relevant information about the vehicle electronically in advance. These details include mileage, number of starts, current fault memory entries, and how the vehicle is equipped.

Success of the active field observation initiative at Bosch
Bosch associates from different operating units have been taking advantage of this program since early 2013. In the first year, they received a total of 550 parts for analysis. From the analysis of these used car parts, Bosch was able to draw important conclusions for the development of new product generations. Several automakers also see the merits of pursuing a policy of active field observation and are using the Bosch process for their own purposes. Automobile workshops are not only able to replace Bosch components; they can also procure any other car part. The software is therefore beneficial for every automaker and automotive supplier to use.

Mobility Solutions is the largest Bosch Group business sector. In 2015, its sales came to 41.7 billion euros, or 59 percent of total group sales. This makes the Bosch Group one of the leading automotive suppliers. The Mobility Solutions business sector combines the group’s expertise in three mobility domains – automation, electrification, and connectivity – and offers its customers integrated mobility solutions. Its main areas of activity are injection technology and powertrain peripherals for internal-combustion engines, diverse solutions for powertrain electrification, vehicle safety systems, driver-assistance and automated functions, technology for user-friendly infotainment as well as vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication, repair-shop concepts, and technology and services for the automotive aftermarket. Bosch is synonymous with important automotive innovations, such as electronic engine management, the ESP anti-skid system, and common-rail diesel technology.

The Bosch Group is a leading global supplier of technology and services. It employs roughly 375,000 associates worldwide (as of December 31, 2015). The company generated sales of 70.6 billion euros in 2015. Its operations are divided into four business sectors: Mobility Solutions, Industrial Technology, Consumer Goods, and Energy and Building Technology. The Bosch Group comprises Robert Bosch GmbH and its roughly 440 subsidiaries and regional companies in some 60 countries. Including sales and service partners, Bosch’s global manufacturing and sales network covers some 150 countries. The basis for the company’s future growth is its innovative strength. Bosch employs 55,800 associates in research and development at 118 locations across the globe. The Bosch Group’s strategic objective is to deliver innovations for a connected life. Bosch improves quality of life worldwide with products and services that are innovative and spark enthusiasm. In short, Bosch creates technology that is “Invented for life.”

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PI8823 - February 25, 2015

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